As has been discussed many times, the Los Angeles Rams have a $5m bonus owed to WR Tavon Austin that he is guaranteed. It is the last guaranteed money in the four-year, $42m deal he signed in the 2016 preseason with two years left on his rookie deal.
Suffice to say, it is not a deal that GM Les Snead will point to with pride.
And so it is that NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo is reporting that Austin will either be released or traded:
Rams will either trade or release WR Tavon Austin before the start of the league year, source says. He’s due $8m, so his time with the team is done.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 1, 2018
Personally, I’m not sure how you pull off a trade while (a) he’s still under that massive contract and (b) the market knows you’re about to release him anyway...but nice try. No, in the end, it was always going to be a clean release to allow Tavon to find a new suitor to hopefully revive his NFL career after a career low 47 receiving yards this season.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Rams traded up to take Austin with the 8th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Hopes were high that Austin could help inject some life into a listless offense under new Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Those hopes were dashed by 2016 even with Fisher suggesting Austin could top 100 receptions (he had 58).
Honestly, I hope Tavon finds a good landing spot and has a career renaissance. I think ultimately the story to be written about his career to this point is a specific type of player who found himself working for a coaching staff that had little clue how to take full advantage of his skill set that became an afterthought when the new coaching staff came in and knew exactly what they wanted to do instead (and did it really, really well). I know there will be Rams fans who harbor some resentment against him, but I honestly don’t. It’s not his fault he is who he is. He didn’t give himself that contract. And it’s not as if he maligned the team in anyway as a teammate. He was always spirited and upbeat and offered Rams fans the speculative out from the offense that existed in reality that many refused to accept. And that was worth quite a bit at the time.
So here’s to Tavon landing on his feet and high-stepping it in 2018 with a new team.